The University of Washington US IMPACT Studies team is investigating the use and users of public access computing centers through a series of studies designed to gather and disseminate information on the impacts these centers have on the individuals, families and communities taking advantage of their services.
Communities Connect Network: The initial study was carried out in Washington State, as part of a cooperative effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide at Washington State University. The Communities Connect Network study developed a policy model to demonstrate the value of public access computing offered in community technology centers across the state of Washington, and resulted in legislative action defining community technology in the state and providing funding for further work with those centers.
Community Technology Opportunity Program: The funding received through the state appropriation as a result of the CCN study was used for a grant program supporting community technology centers throughout the state of Washington. The U.S. IMPACT studies team was engaged to provide the evaluation for these grants, using the model developed in the original study.
The US IMPACT Public Library Study: Most recently, a national study examining the impact of free computers and Internet connections in public libraries, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is nearing completion. Initial results will be presented at the Public Library Association in Portland Oregon, on March 25, 2010.
WA BTOP Evaluation: The Washington Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) is providing grants to 24 community technology centers (CTC) located in the state of Washington. The grants provide support for hands-on technology access and training for low-income and underserved residents. The US Impact research team developed an evaluation framework that ties domain-specific inputs and activities to outputs and impacts and relates the WA BTOP grants evaluations to the Community Technology Impact Measurement Process Model. Consistent with this framework, a web-based survey was developed to track grantees.
IMPACT Survey Evaluation Resource: The IMPACT Survey is a tool to evaluate how patrons use library computers. Participating libraries who administer the survey recieve a report that outlines their usage.
Framework for Digitally Inclusive Communities: The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in cooperation with the University of Washington and its partner International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is working to convene representatives from libraries, community-based and non-governmental organizations, business, and local government — ensuring broad participation in the process of identifying the principles, elements, and characteristics of organizations and communities that foster digital inclusion. The resulting framework is a first step toward the development of benchmarks and guidelines to help libraries and community-based organizations assess their needs for public-access workstations, portable devices, and bandwidth. This work is sponsored by IMLS as part of its effort to address the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.
Library Edge Benchmarks: Edge is a set of national benchmarks developed by a coalition of leading library and local government organizations that have created the first-ever set of national benchmarks, which are designed to inspire continuous improvement and reinvestment in public access technology services in libraries. This groundbreaking initiative will provide local library, government and community leaders with a much needed tool for ensuring opportunity for all.